Scott Simon

When news flashed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated Americans can now safely go without masks, outdoors and in, my eyes fell on the pile in a corner of our apartment.

We have masks with logos and slogans, solid, striped and floral-patterned masks. We have enough Chicago Cubs masks to outfit the team, and a St. Louis Cardinals mask sent by a friend who said, "Cubs masks make errors."

In February 2020, Norm Carson was attending a trade show in Amsterdam, when news about the coronavirus hit.

"We went in that day thinking we'd see some customers, do some training and it'd be a regular day. And then before you knew it, they had announced the name," he says.

I first heard of National Public Radio when it broadcast the Senate hearings into the Watergate scandal live, in the summer of 1973.

With the passage this week of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the United States is now on track to spend some $6 trillion in total on measures related to ending the pandemic.

Among the plans most vocal supporters is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who, as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, helped shepherd the plan through Congress. Sanders says this latest round of appropriations will do no less than rebuild the economy, safely fill classrooms again and help restore faith in the government.

When I first got to know Neil Sheehan, he was going through trying times. We were war correspondents of different generations and I was in awe of the intrepid reporter of the Vietnam conflict, first for United Press International, then The New York Times. He was the first to get his hands on the leak of official documents that became known as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed how U.S. government officials had lied to the American people about the Vietnam War.

A new federal health care rule will require hospitals to publicly post prices for every service they offer and break down those prices by component and procedure. The idea behind the Transparency in Coverage rule is to let patients choose where to go, taking price into consideration.

We got a gift from a friend this week—a true note of grace in discordant times. You may know our friend: Amy Dickinson, who writes the advice column "Ask Amy", and is a panelist on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

Amy grew up singing in the choir of the Freeville United Methodist Church in Freeville, New York, where her grandmother was the organist and choir director.

Amy is still in that choir today.

Earlier this week, researchers in the United Kingdom announced preliminary results from a clinical trial that showed a low-cost steroid called dexamethasone appeared to lower the risk of death in patients with COVID-19.

The researchers said the anti-inflammatory drug reduced the number of deaths in COVID-19 patients on ventilators or oxygen alone by one-third.

Andrea Hoehn of Waseca, Minnesota, told us this week, "I just want to wake up from this nightmare."

Many may feel that way right now. But the experience of the Hoehn family, and other livestock farmers, may be distinctly telling and tragic.

The Hoehn family has run a hog-farm for 6 generations. They can feed and care for about 20,000 hogs at a time, until they're sent to a packinghouse, where, yes, the pigs are slaughtered and packed for food. Hog-farming is a tough business, physically and financially, even in good times.

As I read news reports this week that health care workers in several states said they don't have enough protective gear, including face masks, an email pinged in.

"PUT ON YOUR GAME FACE," it said. A sport merchandise site now sells face masks in the colors and logos of NFL teams.

Let me just note that some masks looked more appealing than others. The dancing Miami Dolphin could make you look like a bear with a fish in its mouth.

Our oldest daughter turned 17 yesterday. It's quite a time for a young person to have a birthday.

I've covered wars where I got to know families with teenagers, and I would ask parents, "What do you want your children to remember of these times?" The answer was almost always: "Nothing. I want my children to remember nothing of all this."

This coronavirus is not a war. Yet, as in war, there are long spells of tedium, interrupted by episodes of anxiety and sometimes danger, loss and grief. No parent wants their children to carry that load through their lives.

Americans like to think of ourselves as rolling up our sleeves to do a hard job.

But these days, we have to remind ourselves first: wash your hands!

The coronavirus has made some of our long-time slogans and clichés about confronting a crisis sound a just a little tinny.

Nurses, doctors, paramedics, technicians and other hospital workers earn the gratitude of the world right now. They risk their lives for others — what genuine heroes do.

But, there are many other people we might overlook who are also essential in these extraordinary times.

I took a run the other morning. It was still and quiet, but I was surprised to see how many people were up, about, and still working in a city in which "nonessential workers" have been told to stay at home.

The losses of the coronavirus pandemic became personal for many Americans this week. More people lost jobs. More people had to worry about their health. And more people died. These names are just a few among so many who gave something to our lives.

Dr. Ruth brought sex education into America's homes at a time when frank talk about the subject was considered off-color and out-of-bounds in broadcasting.

But Ruth Westheimer was more guarded when it came to talking about her own life story: a young Jewish girl who became a refugee during World War II.

At age 90, Dr. Ruth is opening up. An upcoming documentary on Hulu, Ask Dr. Ruth, profiles Westheimer's life and journey, revealing a side of her life that even her own children never fully understood until recently.

Updated at 8:33 a.m. ET on April 27

In 1995, Sports Illustrated likened Larry Kahn and David Lockwood to the Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier of Tiddlywinks. A fearsome metaphor for two men who, in the parlance of their game, spend their time squopping and potting, rather than bobbing and weaving.

World War II pilot Dick Cole, the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raid, died last week at age 103.

Before Mike Nussbaum started acting professionally in his 40s, he was trying to make a living as an exterminator.

"I was acting since I was 9 years old ... but I was doing community theater for many years before I went ahead with it as a professional," Nussbaum says.

These days Nussbaum is earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Rudy, a grandfather who is confronting loss and decline, in Rachel Bond's play Curve of Departure at the Northlight Theatre near Chicago.

Deborah Epstein has spent her professional life fighting for victims of domestic violence. But protecting such victims is also what Epstein says led her to step down from a commission meant to tackle the issue of domestic violence in the National Football League.

In 1978, Ron Stallworth was working as a detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department when he came across a classified ad to find out more about the Ku Klux Klan — and answered it. Two weeks later, he got a call on the police department's undercover operations line. It was the local KKK organizer. He asked why Stallworth wanted to join the Klan.

"I said I wanted to join because I was a pure, Aryan, white man who was tired of the abuse of the white race by blacks and other minorities," Stallworth recalls.

The largest supplier of law enforcement body cameras in the U.S. is exploring pairing its cameras with new AI capabilities — including real-time face recognition.

Axon, formerly known as Taser International, sparked controversy late last month when it announced the creation of an ethics board to examine the implications of coupling artificial intelligence with its line of police products.

Hugh Hefner created Playboy at his kitchen table in Chicago. The magazine was blamed for (or credited with) setting off a cultural revolution in America, but within a few years Hefner was branded a male chauvinist. He was a proponent of free speech and a champion of civil rights who was decried as a merchant of smut.

Hefner died Wednesday at the age of 91, the magazine announced in a statement, writing that he "peacefully passed away today from natural causes at his home, The Playboy Mansion, surrounded by loved ones."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A lot of people saw their hopes and dreams fulfilled this week — for just a few hours.

Carnegie Mellon University emailed about 800 people who had applied to graduate school to say, 'Congratulations, you're in.' They were — to quote the message of acceptance — "one of the select few" to be accepted into Carnegie Mellon's prestigious Master of Science in Computer Science program.

A young woman in India who was accepted wrote on Facebook that she quit her job, bolstered by this act of faith in her future. Her boyfriend proposed marriage.

Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.

But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.

Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador's ruling regime.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Every Saturday just before our show begins I get on the public address system here to announce to our crew, "It's a beautiful day for a radio show. Let's do two today!"

It's an admiring imitation of Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame baseball player who died last night at the age of 83. Ernie used to say, especially in the long years of hot summers — including this last one, when the Cubs were stuck in last place — "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two today!"

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The times they are a-changin'. But should you ever doubt that, the cover and featured interview in the next issue of the AARP Magazine will be Bob Dylan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOREVER YOUNG")

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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